I�ve got a print on my bedroom wall: Asparagus Island by William Holman Hunt. It�s unfashionable to like the Pre-Raphaelites � all those lantern-jawed Rossetti lovelies and clunking knights in armour. But Holman Hunt�s beachscapes are startling: the disco-light intensity of the colours, the riveting freshness in every splash of sea and sky. And when he stumbled on Kynance Cove, on a walking tour with Alfred Tennyson in 1860, he must have thought all his summers had come at once.
It is the quintessential Cornish cove, smuggled away at the bottom of a heather-rugged ravine on the suntrap Lizard Peninsula � and it�s the colours that really make it. You approach on foot, from above, and on a sunny day, that Holman Hunt view thwacks you straight in the eye. Turkish-turquoise shallows breaking onto the beach. Violent lime turf pricked with shoals of sea pinks. Ivory sand. All framed by 200ft cliffs of serpentine, polished scarlet by the sea, and swirling with purples and greens.
Romantic doesn�t begin to describe it, and if, like me, you recall breeze-blasted childhood holidays on Cornish clifftops � playing hide-and-seek in the gorse, cornets with clotted-cream on top, chasing crabs out of rockpools with your shrimping net � Kynance Cove will bring those memories gambolling back.
This is muscular stuff, seaside on steroids. The steepish track down to the shore leads to a collection of bijou coves, staked out by sea stacks and pinnacles with names like Lion Rock, the Bellows, the Bishop � and Asparagus Island itself, bookending the beach. I didn�t have an Ordnance Survey map in 1977, and as far as I was concerned it was Kirrin Island, where the Famous Five saw off a band of suspiciously swarthy-looking shipwreck-plunderers, then toddled off for rock cakes and ginger beer.
Last summer I returned with my own daughter and had all the same fun again: checking the caves behind the beach for monsters, scraping our toes on limpets, and turning circus-quality somersaults in the vicious breakers which blast onto the shore. When you tire of that, climb onto the downs for a four-mile romp to Mullion Cove, along clifftops nibbled by incongruous Highland cattle and cascading with orchids, sedges and bell heather, where my brother once got bitten (hurrah!) by a snake.
Back at Kynance Cove, there�s a whitewashed beach hut among the rocks which does crab salad, Cornish pasties from Ann Muller, �Lizard�s undisputed pasty queen�� and tea cakes and ginger beer.
The route: Kynance Cove is two miles west of Lizard village off the A3083, via a National Trust toll road. The walk north to Mullion Cove on the South West Coast Path is a clearly signposted four miles each way: you can cut it short by heading inland fromPredannack and back on field paths through the Lizard National Nature Reserve.